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Shoulder Pain

The shoulder can move in more directions than any other joint in the body. Though this is a plus, it's also a minus because the greater the mobility, the greater the possibility of injury. Some of the shoulder's flexibility is due to its being a ball-and-socket mechanism and some of the flexibility is due to the way the arm is attached to the shoulder. The bones are usually held together by ligaments but in the case of the shoulder this job is primarily done by three important tendons. Since the tendons in the shoulder are doing not only their own job but the job of ligaments as well, they are easily strained and injured.

Several bones make up the shoulder. These include the upper arm bone, A in the illustration (the humerus); the collarbone, B (the clavicle); and the shoulder blade, C (the scapula), which contains the shoulder socket, D, a cup like portion of the bone at the side of the scapula. The shoulder also has several joints. The joint most commonly referred to as the "shoulder joint" is the point at which the top of the arm fits into the shoulder socket. Most shoulder injuries occur where these two bones fit together, either in the shoulder bursar, in the joint itself or in one of the tendons around the joint line.

One other joint in the shoulder which is commonly injured is called the acromioclavicular joint. If you could tilt your head all the way to the side, your ear would be right on top of the acromioclavicular joint. You may have heard the term AC joint separation, while watching a football game. This injury occurs very frequently during football or basketball and when falling off of a bicycle.

© copyright Ben Benjamin 2001